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MFA Students and Professors Participate In International Biennial in Romania
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Phyllis Cohen Stevens
Deputy Director of News Services
phyllis.cohen-stevens@qc.cuny.edu
(718) 997-5597

Maria Matteo
News Assistant
maria.matteo@qc.cuny.edu
(718) 997-5593

QUEENS COLLEGE ART PROFESSORS AND STUDENTS
PARTICIPATE IN ROMANIAN ART SHOW

-- School Was Only American Institution at International Biennial --

FLUSHING, NY, November 6, 2008 -- Queens College was the only American institution to participate in Periferic 8, an international art biennial held in Iasi, Romania, last month. The theme of the show, Art as Gift, encouraged exhibitors to explore the social value of art and the practice of giving presents. In response, art professors Gregory Sholette and Maureen Connor and five graduate students—Andrea DeFelice, Susan Kirby, Matthew Mahler, John Pavlou, and Nathania Rubin—came up with a multimedia project, the Institute for Wishful Thinking (IWT), based on an idea of Connor’s.

The QC contingent invited Periferic’s employees to visit IWT’s newly created Web site, anonymously if necessary, and ask for goods or services that met three conditions: They weren’t likely to be provided by Periferic because of the group’s lack of funds or resources; they would allow staffers to do their jobs better; and they would help the exhibition realize its full potential. “The idea was to address the needs of people who aren’t visible,” explains Sholette. As long as all the requirements were fulfilled, requests could be practical, outrageous, or somewhere in between.

After receiving about two dozen requests, the professors and students tried to honor them.
“When something couldn’t be done literally, we came up with our own interpretation,” says Sholette, who supplied an essay, “Gifts of Resistance,” to the biennial’s catalog. The solutions, displayed in Romania, were inventive. Rubin, a member of a rock band, wrote and performed songs to fulfill several wishes. “Though I have worked with music before, I had never mixed live musical performance with the visual art world,” she says. Mahler, a painter with professional experience constructing installations, helped build the gallery space at Periferic. “The intense exchange was interesting,” he says. “It made me reconsider the audience I’m trying to speak with.”

IWT works were flagged with green magic lamp logos evoking Aladdin; faculty and students wore T-shirts with the logo to discuss their endeavor at lectures and a question-and-answer session. Institutional memory wasn’t limited to Romania. DeFelice, with the help of the rest of the team, installed documentation of the project for Retail Space Available, a group show of Queens College’s MFA students that Gallery 151 in Manhattan hosted in October.

Professor Gregory Sholette is a New York-based artist, writer, and founding member of two artists’ collectives, as well as co-editor of The Interventionists: A User’s Manual for the Creative Disruption of Everyday Life and Collectivism After Modernism: The Art of Social Imagination after 1945. He frequently collaborates with the artist Janet Koenig and is currently working on a book about the political economy of the art world and his concept of creative dark matter for Pluto Press. Sholette received his BFA from Cooper Union and his MFA from the University of Southern California.

New York installation artist Maureen Connor began Personnel, an ongoing project about the artinstitution as a workplace, in 2000. Her site-specific installations have been produced for art departments and art institutions in the U.S., Poland, and Spain. Solo exhibitions of her video installations have taken place at the Museo de Arte Moderno, Buenos Aires; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Kunstraum Munich; and MOMA, New York, among others. She has had work in both international and local group shows including such prestigious venues as the Cooper-Hewitt Museum and the Whitney Biennial in New York.

The MFA in Art program at Queens College attracts talented, career-oriented students from across America and the world. Through a rigorous regimen of classes, seminars, studio practice, and community activities, the program fosters individual artistic vision within a broader cultural, historical, and philosophical context. Students may concentrate in Painting, Sculpture and Installation, Drawing, Video, Photography, or any combination of these practices. In addition to participating in various group exhibitions at Queens College or in other venues in the New York City area, each student presents a one-person exhibition of his/her work as a requirement for the MFA degree.


 
 

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